First, how do we lower the barriers to entry for NGOs looking to deploy mobile technology in their work? And second, how do we help share information about what mobile means in the developing world to the widest possible audience, i.e. one outside traditional development or technology circles?
A good example of the second theme is our recently launched Mobile Message series running on the National Geographic website. We’re also targeting non-mobile-for-development and non-ICT4D conferences and contributing chapters to books and giving interviews to magazines, which take the message to a new audience. The latest was a piece on mobile innovation for an in-flight magazine for travellers on flights to Africa.
One of our early initiatives was the creation of The Social Mobile Group way back in November 2006. It was the first Facebook group of its kind to focus on the social application of mobiles and mobile technology, and it remains the largest group dedicated to the subject on Facebook today.
What makes a community open is when there’s “a lot more outside the login than inside,” so most of a community’s content must be at least viewable and shareable without logging in. To be active, most of a community’s content must be member (user) generated, not owner-generated, and must have some degree of conversation which includes comments, discussions and reviews
The Social Mobile Group always attempted to do this, and one of its first moves was to appoint Group Officers, handing control and ownership of the group to community members. This has worked well. All of the content and discussion comes from the community, everything is open, and thanks to the efforts of members alone it has organically grown to a membership of just under 3,000 today.
If you’d like to join, visit the Group’s Facebook page. If you’d like to get involved – or help us spread the mobile message – invite your friends, or leave a message on our wall. Our Group Officers would love to hear from you.Ken Banks is founder of kiwanja.net, a site that helps nonprofits use mobile technology to serve their communities’ information needs. See his profile page, visit his blog, contact Ken or leave a comment. Follow Ken on Twitter at @kiwanja.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported.